SEO Case Study

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The Challenge

How can we increase SEO performance for a publishing website that is guided by current events, rather than keyword research?

 

As SEO’s we want to be part of the content conversation from the very beginning, but that isn’t possible in all cases. Publishers and news site content is primarily driven by what is happening around us in real-time. For this particular client, we had a significant amount of content at our disposal, but how could we increase its visibility in search engines?

 

As with most things, the answer came to us when we took a step back and looked internally. 

 

Internal links.

The Approach

The website itself is blessed to be commandeered by a prolific author. The primary source of content comes from our clients' daily analysis of leading news headlines and cultural conversations. Many topics come across the author’s desk, and are discussed from his worldview, and go just as quickly as they appeared. 

 

There are, however, questions that persist. Topics that seem to dance across the minds of all who ponder some of life's greatest questions. For these topics, the website has static content. Some new, some old. Some long dissertations and some simple audio embeds. 

 

Our goal was to increase the search visibility for topics that have staying power and search demand to back it up. We set out to comb the entire site looking for mentions of specific keywords that we could link to a primary content source that we wanted to rank predominantly in search. 

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Image by Austin Distel

The Execution

We began by setting up a crawl of the website, and extracted all of the body copy from each page. Then we were ready to search any keyword phrase we could think of to find where on the site it was mentioned. Next, we built a list of non-brand keyword targets that we wanted to increase our rank for. From there, we identified all pages on the site that mentioned that specific keyword phrase. 

 

Once identified, we simply hyperlinked the keyword and pointed the link to the piece of content we wanted to rank for the keyword. Our goal was to find a minimum of 5 internal link opportunities for each target keyword.

The Results

 Test Round 1 

Avg. Rank Improvement of 1.2 positions for target keywords

 

Avg. Weighted Rank Pre Test: 7.9

 

Avg. Weighted Rank Post Test: 6.7

87%

increase in clicks for target keywords

29%

increase in impressions

 Test Round 2 

Avg. Rank Improvement of 1 position for target keywords

Avg. Weighted Rank Pre Test: 5.9

Avg. Weighted Rank Post Test: 4.9

16%

increase in clicks for target keywords

13%

increase in impressions

We ran this test twice, for 4 weeks each time. The results speak for themselves. Both tests yielded an average weighted rank increase of at least 1 full ranking position.

 

We also saw increases in both clicks and impressions for the keywords included in the test. 

 

These tests proved the concept that it was worth our client’s time to invest in seeking out internal link opportunities for targeted non-brand keywords. Since this test, we’ve helped the client operationalize this process so new and old content pieces are getting fresh eyes looking to increase their search visibility via the power of internal linking.

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